The town was a station on the Northern Pacific railroad between Sheridan and Alder. Originally known as Cicero, the name was changed to honor John Baptiste Laurin who ran a trading store nearby. John and his wife prospered by trading with the Indians and selling goods to the miners. He and his wife were in the mercantile and livestock business for almost forty years.
While they had no children of their own, they raised fourteen who had been left to their care for one reason or another. They built a magnificent Catholic church of native stone and donated it to the community. The church still stands. Perhaps Laurin is best known for its "Hangman’s Tree" where members of the Plummer Gang were dispatched at the end of a rope on January 4, 1864.